Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 20th 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, November 20, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Industrial Court judges yesterday ruled
that the termination of 68 workers by
state-owned oil company National Petro-
leum (NP) was "harsh and oppressive" and
ordered the company to reinstate them.
The court also ordered NP to pay the
workers all their salary and benefits to yes-
terday s date by the end of January. The
company also was ordered to pay each work-
er $40,000 in damages before the year ends.
But less than an hour later, NP said it
would challenge the ruling.
In October, NP fired the 68 workers, who
it said had engaged in an illegal work stop-
page from August 13 to 15, 2013. The 68
were among 86 employees the company
had initially suspended following the work
NP staff had at the time been protesting
what they claimed was an attempt by man-
agement to privatise the company.
The walkout also highlighted the employ-
ees concerns over management s award of
a $394,000 contract to a private company
to do loading on the gantry.
Yesterday s judgment said the disciplinary
hearing conducted by NP did not meet the
minimum standards of natural justice in
significant respects and was not conducted
in accordance with the principle of good
industrial relations practices.
Yesterday, men and women, wearing their
Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU)
shirts, cried tears of joy as Industrial Court
president Deborah Thomas-Felix delivered
Outside the court they sang union songs
and congratulated each other on their vic-
tory, after spending more than a year in
Clayton Legendre, an employee of the
company for the past 29 years, said he had
done a lot of odd jobs in order to support
"It wasn t easy. I am overwhelmed. It
was very hurtful what the company did and
for a while I had an anger in my heart for
them," Legendre said.
He said he would be happy to put on his
clothes and attend work at NP s Pointe-a-
Pierre branch today.
"This action was an historic action taken
by the management of a state enterprise,"
said OWTU president general Ancel Roget,
who celebrated with the workers.
"We can hardly remember a situation
where a state enterprise, which is supposed
to set an example of good industrial relations
practices, would have fired, without just
cause, some 68 workers."
Roget said the action was vengeful and
maintained the decision was taken on
instructions from the Cabinet.
"Justice prevailed today. The workers are
going to report for active duty tomorrow
morning. We have always held that the
management was wrong," he added.
Roget, responding to NP s intention to
contest the ruling, said: "The workers will
present themselves to work and the court
ruled it was to be without loss of any ben-
efits. I don t know what the company will
do tomorrow (today)."
He said he expected the company to
respond in the way it did.
"They are attempting to frustrate the will
of the court, the rule of law and the workers
and their union, none of which will happen,"
There have been 164 confirmed cases
of chikungunya and 2,000 suspected
cases in T&T, Health Minister Dr Fuad
Replying to Opposition MP Dr Amery
Browne s questions in Parliament yesterday,
Khan said the 164 cases had been con-
firmed by testing.
He said a specific criterion for ChikV
was swelling of the joints. Non-specific
symptoms were fever, joint pain, malaise
and rashes. Khan said people aged 20 to
30 experienced joint pains for two to three
days while older patients suffered pains
He said there were other viruses with
similar conditions to ChikV and the treat-
ment for all was the same: Analgesics
(painkillers) and rest.
Khan also said Cabinet had agreed on
a total project budget of $1,567,536,356 for
the Point Fortin hospital construction. He
said no date had yet been set for the sod-
turning ceremony. (GA)
Court rules: NP must
rehire 68 workers
OWTU president general Ancel Roget, third from left (middle row), celebrates with NP workers outside the Industrial Court, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday after their victory over the company. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Still 2,000 suspected
ChikV cases, says Fuad
NP not happy
NP yesterday said it would appeal the
court's judgment and the company
management up to yesterday evening was
meeting to discuss the matter.
In a release, the company said it did not
believe the rationale for the court's
decision took into account all the facts and
factors that constituted "good industrial
Kesar firing going to court too
Speaking about the dismissal of another
union member yesterday, Roget said
Trinmar branch president Ernesto Kesar,
who was fired for being absent from work
for just over four hours without
permission on October 17, also would have
his day in court.
"This ruling should send a message to
employers that there is an institution
called the Industrial Court that adjudicates
in fairness and whether the rulings be for
them or the union it would be fair," he said.
Roget called on NP management to
tender its resignation or be fired
immediately as it had taken "vindictive and
spiteful action" against the union.
School sex attack
suspect in court
The suspect held in connection with the sexual
assault of a nine-year-old student at the Scar-
borough Roman Catholic School on Tuesday is
due to appear in court today.
The man, 19, will appear, even as the Tobago
House of Assembly (THA) continues to improve
security measures at the school.
THA Secretary for Education, Youth and Sport,
Huey Cadette, who also has a child at the school,
said counsellors from the THA and Police Service
conducted sessions with traumatised teachers, par-
ents and students yesterday.
The school will remain closed until tomorrow to
allow contractors to put up fencing.
Cadette said plans to beef up security at all
schools on the island were also underway, noting
this process had been started about a week ago.
"It is unfortunate this incident ended up hap-
pening before we were able to put things in place.
This reminds us in a very vivid way the responsibility
we have as a division and therefore to ensure that
we operate in a very timely manner," Cadette added.
Meanwhile, in a radio interview yesterday, T&T
Unified Teachers Association president Devanand
Sinanan said Scarborough RC, like most primary
schools in Tobago, did not have security officers.
"Unfortunately, it has to take these incidences
to bring the point home to the relevant authorities
that we need to ensure every single school is properly
secured, both in terms of fencing as well as guards
posted at the gate," he said.
Police said the girl was assaulted during a visit
to the bathroom. Students told police a man, armed
with a knife and wearing a stocking over his head,
entered at the back of the compound. When the
girl entered the bathroom he locked her into a cubi-
cle and assaulted her.
School principal Phillip Roachford was alerted
and ran into the bathroom, wrestled with the man
and took away the knife. The man was then arrested
Sinanan said he was grateful for Roachford s
"Thank God he (principal) is a big guy and he
was able to break down the door and literally wrestle
with the perpetrator to rescue the child," he added.
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